tiruchy l monday l december 28, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 28 l late city EDITION ANT told to return to ITS roots in payments services People’s Bank of China stops short of asking for a breakup of Jack Ma’s firm, but stresses necessity of a business overhaul weighing options to protect economy The central bank told Ant to ‘rectify’ its suite of services, which have expanded from a PayPal-like operation to offer consumer loans, insurance and wealth management. The regulators are weighing the options of carving up Ant’s different lines of operation, or splitting its online and offline services to contain the risks it poses to the Chinese economy P9 ■ $35 bn Slammed for monopolistic tendencies ■ Authorities blasted Ant for sub-par corporate governance, disdain toward regulatory requirements, and engaging in regulatory arbitrage. They castigated Ant for monopolistic tendencies too The empires built by Jack Ma, Tencent Holdings’ chairman Ma Huateng and other tycoons are also under scrutiny IPO listing of ANT before the central bank torpedoed it CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Rajini out of KCR now changes tack, hosp, advised aligns his policies with a week’s rest what’s brewing? Munusamy’s remarks on coalition draw significance, as it comes days after Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, evaded questions by reporters in Chennai on whether or not the BJP leadership would endorse Palaniswami as the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2021 Assembly polls. @ Chennai eps responds to stalin’s allegations AIADMK joint coordinator and CM Edappadi K Palaniswami at the party’s poll campaign launch in Chennai on Sunday | p jawahar AIADMK says no to coalition govt Party kick-starts campaign for 2021 polls; affirms own government ‘a long-standing policy’ T MURUGA N A N D HAM @ Chennai IN a razor-sharp message that was loud and clear to its allies, the AIADMK on Sunday categorically ruled out any possibility of a coalition government after the 2021 Assembly elections, asserting that the new government would be led only by the ruling Dravidian party. Mincing no words during his rather explosive speech, the AIADMK’s deputy coordinator, KP Munusamy, said, “The AIADMK will form the next government even if national and State parties join as alliance partners. There is no need to speak about a coalition government. If any party, coming forward for an alliance arrangement, aspires to form a coalition government, please rethink.” He also reaffirmed that Edappadi K Palaniswami is the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance. Though he did not mention any party , his remarks were a straight response e x p r e s s r e ad 3 more UK returnees test positive for Covid Chennai: Three more persons with UK travel history tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday, taking the total number of positive returnees to 13. As many as 12 of their contacts also have been infected and their samples have been sent to the Virology Institute in Pune for genome sequencing | P3 `1.5-lakh chopper ride for a poll campaign? Tiruchy: MNM founder, Kamal Haasan, arrived in Tiruchy for his election campaign in a private chopper, that purportedly costs at least `1.5 lakh a ride. Haasan was scheduled to land at Tiruchy in a chartered flight on Sunday, but his flight was diverted to Madurai Cops charge army officer with fake encounter Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police filed a chargesheet, charging an army captain and two locals with a conspiracy to abduct civilians and stage a fake encounter on July 18 last. The army had claimed to have killed three militants in the encounter at Amishpora in Shopian | P8 Stadia can welcome back spectators Chennai: A circular issued by the Sports Ministry has paved the way for fans to re-enter stadia. The circular, dated December 26, states “... for outdoor events spectators will be allowed upto a maximum of 50% of the total capacity of the stadium.” | P11 WITH THIS ISSUE THE ESSENTIAL CAMPUS DIGEST 28 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF edex (TABLOID) YOUR LIFE COACH to the BJP which has been speaking , about sharing power. Addressing a packed gathering after Chief Minister Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam, formal, ly kick-started the AIADMK election campaign in Chennai, Munusamy said forming a government on their own has been the long standing policy of late leaders, MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa. “It is the firm stand of all the functionaries and the cadre, including Palaniswami and Panneerselvam.” Munusamy’s remarks are significant, coming as it does two days after the Union minister, Prakash Javadekar, had evaded reporters’ questions about whether the national part y l e a d e r s h i p wo u l d e n d o r s e Palaniswami as the chief ministerial candidate. He had simply pointed to AIADMK’s Rajya Sabha MP, A Navaneethakrishnan, seated in the audience, saying, “That is the answer.” mar 31 date till expired RC & DLs will be valid The question is whether the BJP would accept the AIADMK as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance in Tamil Nadu, he had said. Munusamy sprinkled his speech with tributes to the party’s stalwarts, MG Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa and said the upcoming elections were crucial as it comes at a time when many parties have been speculating on a supposed change of the political scenario in the State. “Such views have been emanating because erstwhile tall leaders like MGR and A m m a a r e n o t t h e r e n o w. DMK stalwart M Karunanidhi, too, who was on the opposite side, is no more. At such a juncture, many have been dreaming of winning the elections. I wish to convey to them — the political history of Tamil Nadu is different from that of the rest of India, because its seeds were sown by Periyar,” he said. P4 The AIADMK will form the next government even if national and State parties join as alliance partners - KP Munusamy port to the farmers protesting against the three laws and had asked his party cadre to make Weeks after TRS president the December 8 Bharat Bandh and Telangana Chief Minis- a grand success, and the shift ter K Chandrashekar Rao in stand appears stark. launched a broadside against Another nugget in Sunday’s the three new farm laws, he basket of decisions was to nix appeared to be on the same regulated cropping, which till page as the Centre on Sunday now was one of hismajor polo n t h o s e c o n t e n t i o u s icy initiatives in the farm seclegislations. tor. The state govern`7,500 cr For, the state govment decided to let loss ernment decided to farmers choose whatstop procurement of The state govt ever they want to paddy and other crops incurred losses cultivate. at the village level, as totalling `7,500 The chief minister the Centre’s new law crore, as it had took these decisions permits farmers to during a meeting with purchased sell their produce various crops at various ministers and any-where in the senior agriculture deMSP, but was country . forced to sell at partment officials. In The change in line lower prices due a press statement afcame close on the to low demand ter the meeting, the heels of the chief state gover nment minister’s visit to Delsaid: “As the new agrihi on December 13, during culture laws permit farmers which he met PM Modi and to sell their crop anywhere in Union Home Minister Amit the country the state govern, Shah. The visit came after the ment need not set up purchasGreater Hyderabad Munici- ing centres in villages.” One pal Corporation elections, reason for scrapping regulatwhere the BJP did remarka- ed cropping could be the govbly well. Contrast that with ernment’s inability to provide his position in early Decem- bonus to superfine rice cultiber, when he extended sup- vators due to FCI norms. E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Hyderabad CLOUDS of uncertainty loom over the much-awaited political entry by actor Rajinikanth once again as he has been advised a week’s rest and “minimal physical activity” after being discharged from the Apollo Hospitals in Hyderabad on Sunday The actor was admitted to . the hospital on December 25 following severe fluctuations in his blood pressure and exhaustion. A press release by the hospital said that his blood pressure had stabilized and that Rajinikanth was feeling much better. The actor has been advised complete bed rest for a week, with regular monitoring of blood pressure levels and minimal physical activity to avoid stress, “in view of his posttransplant status, labile hypertension and age”. He was also counselled by the doctors to avoid any activity that increases his risk of contracting Covid-19 infection. Back home, however, a section of his fans felt that it would be a major setback for him, and affect his reliability if he did not keep his word on the party launch by the end of this year. The union transport ministry extended the validity of motor vehicle documents to help out citizens requiring renewal while maintaining social distancing No cause for alarm, but India already has 19 virus variants S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi Like elsewhere, coronavirus is quietly changing in India, making itself resistant to antibodies. As of now, 19 such variants are already present in the country, researchers associated with multiple government institutions have established. Scientists attached with the CSIR - Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in Delhi, the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research and Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, analysed over 2,40,000 SARS-COV-2 genome sequences from 133 countries and identified 86 with escape mutants, or variants with genetic changes that make them resistant to antibodies. Nineteen of these 86 variants were found in India. An escape mutation is one that allows SARS-COV-2 to evade antibodies specific to the spike protein the virus uses to enter human cells. All vaccines are designed to generate antibodies against the spike protein to try to block the virus’ entry into cells. The findings come at a time when the government has decided to accelerate genome sequencing to track changes in the pathogen after a variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the UK had significant structural and behavioural changes, making it 70% more infectious that the original Covid strain. “There is no need to be alarmed but definitely a need to be cautious,” Vinod Scaria, a scientist with CSIR-IGIB and joint first author of the paper told this newspaper. “The variations in the virus does not mean that the vaccine will not work against it but is likely to lower its efficacy he said. “During the tri,” als of the vaccine, too, it needs to be analysed whether those who are getting infected are afflicted with the variant virus,” he added. Scaria said cases of Covid-19 re-infection should also be followed up with genome sequencing. K. waking up to expedite Genome sequencing Of the more than 1.01 crore Covid19 positive cases reported in India, only about 6,400 samples have been genome sequenced. In contrast, the UK with 2 million cases has already sequenced 1.57 lakh samples After launching the campaign, AIADMK joint coordinator and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami listed out the government’s achievements. He also responded to the many allegations levelled by DMK chief MK Stalin and said, “He has been spreading canards that we did nothing for the people.” | P4 Centre’s new farm laws S KUMAR E SA N , SI N D U J A J A N E
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